In 1966, Rev Martin Luther King Jr told the Medical Committee for Human Rights, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman….” The problem of health inequity rings especially true for cancer. In 1980, all women in Chicago had the same cancer mortality rate: there was no disparity. By 2007, black women were substantially more likely than white women to die from breast cancer and metastatic colon cancer, even as, or perhaps because, therapies improved. Historical shifts have produced the wide racial gaps in survival seen today for many cancers, and this injustice has been exacerbated by government inaction.
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Polite BN, Gluck AR, Brawley OW. Ensuring Equity and Justice in the Care and Outcomes of Patients With Cancer. JAMA. 2019;321(17):1663–1664. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4266
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